Respect privilege

It’s not easy going through life with a disability. Fortunately, people with disabilities get an occasional privilege. One of them is the use of disabled person parking spaces. It helps make one small aspect of life a little easier.

Nonetheless, the privileges need to be respected. When taken for granted, the person doesn’t appreciate the privilege. When a person has a sense of entitlement to privileges, it leads those without them to begrudge the privileged. So even a person with challenges in life and few privileges should take care not to abuse them.

When Bob Shatney, a paraplegic man, was being cited for parking in a disabled person parking space, he was surprised. Even though he had neither a disabled person placard nor disabled person license plates, Shatney felt he should not be cited.

Shatney had just bought a new car, so he did not have his disabled person plates yet. But Shatney also qualifies for a disabled person placard. He could use the placard until the plates arrived. Instead, Shatney felt that having his wheelchair in the back seat and hand controls for driving entitled him to use the disabled person parking space, even though the law said otherwise.

The law says that the disabled person placard must be displayed when parking in a disabled person parking space. In fact, it says that the person must show the registration for the placard when a law officer makes the request. The law does so for a couple of reasons. One is that abuse of disabled person placards is rampant. Another is that many people have “invisible disabilities” where you cannot see that they have a disability by observing them walking from their car parked in a disabled person parking space.

There is no exception in the law for people with wheelchairs or for having hand controls in their car. If there were, some people without a disability would find yet more ways to take advantage of disabled person parking. The law protects the privilege of the driver or passenger with a disability. It should be respected by the beneficiaries of the privilege.

As for Shatney, his citation was canceled. Because he demonstrated that he had the legal right to use disabled person parking, the local police sergeant canceled the citation. That’s fair to Shatney, but it was also fair that he was cited in the first place.

The adapted driving cautionary tale

Buying a van adapted for driving from a wheelchair is a costly investment. Depending on the scope of adaptations needed, the price can even run into six-figures. This is obviously not a purchase to take lightly.

Nonetheless, it can be a critical investment for a person with a disability. An adapted vehicle can provide that person with independence most people take for granted but that is otherwise unattainable for someone with a significant mobility impairment.

Considering all this, one would hope that making the purchase would go smoothly. After all, activities of daily living are challenging enough for someone with a major disability. That person would hope that their purchase is sure to be hitch free. Unfortunately, it’s not—even in the most uneventful of purchases.

First of all, at least for the initial purchase, the driver must undergo a driving evaluation given by a team that includes an occupational therapist and a rehabilitation engineer who specialize in adapted driving before even ordering a vehicle. Secondly, funding is a challenge and most traditional lenders won’t provide a loan for an adapted vehicle because of the high cost relative to the Blue Book value. Finally, the driver must have at least two fittings before delivery just to ensure the van is configured appropriately for the individual.

After all this, my most recent purchase of an adapted van went from a major hassle to my worst nightmare. I chose the same dealer from which I had purchased my prior two adapted vans, ADS Mobility. ADS had been in business for almost thirty years and had a good reputation in the industry. In my prior two purchases, the dealer did its best to provide quality service to me and they fully rectified the one accidental incident that occurred. This last purchase was a different story altogether.

First of all, ADS delayed delivery of my van for months. The owner, Chuck Kutz, fed me excuse after excuse, blaming all the delays on his suppliers. I have since discovered that all of the excuses were lies. I now speculate that what actually happened is ADS probably misappropriated the payment I made for the vehicle and did not use it to purchase the base Honda Odyssey Northstar conversion and all of the additional adapted driving equipment I require. Instead, it was probably used for ADS’s other expenses and then Kutz probably had to wait for sales to later unfortunate customers to use their payments to acquire my van and equipment over the subsequent months.

Part of the equipment that ADS contracted to install in my van was an AEVIT L Series system. This system costs well into five-figures all by itself plus thousands of dollars more to install. When I finally received my van, it had a used EGB SS electronic gas and brake system installed instead. This is an obsolete (albeit reliable) predecessor to the AEVIT system that hasn’t been manufactured since 2001 and which the manufacturer doesn’t support anymore.

The reason why ADS mangled my transaction has now come to light. The dealership went out of business and closed up shop. No other address or phone number was given to any customers for any kind of follow-up service on undelivered purchases, which happened to be the state of mine at the time. The owner has gone into hiding and is incommunicado. Fortunately (sort of), my van was abandoned at a distant Honda dealer, so I was able to retrieve it.

The van had the temporary registration vehicles have when first delivered by dealers. I checked with the Department of Motor Vehicles to determine when they would send me my permanent plates and discovered that ADS had neither processed my registration nor paid the taxes and fees. Of course, I had already paid ADS thousands of dollars to do so. Unfortunately, ADS left it up to me to process the registration and pay the taxes and fees—yet again!

Is this tale over? I hope so but it might not be. Other people who recently bought adapted vans from ADS have actually had their vans repossessed by ADS’s supplier. It turns out ADS didn’t pay its supplier for a fleet of vans and Kutz absconded with the unfortunate buyers’ monies.

ADS Mobility was QAP Accredited by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). This Quality Assurance Program (QAP) accredited what, in this case, turned out to be a very low quality and crooked dealership. In all fairness, the QAP is a well designed program and is a strong indicator that an accredited dealer can be relied on to deal in good faith with its customers. Nonetheless, a dealer bent on ripping off its customers can still become QAP Accredited by defrauding the NMEDA, just as it does its customers.

Buyers of adapted vehicles should not rely solely on any such indicator that their dealer will take care of them. Let this tale be a warning to act with great caution when purchasing such an expensive and critical vehicle. Before paying the dealer, try to determine what comprises the dealer’s inventory of vehicles and equipment. Try to identify your own vehicle as early as possible and verify that no suppliers have a lien on its title. And whatever you do, avoid dealing with Chuck Kutz like the plague!

Honda Odyssey van with VMI Northstar conversion
Honda Odyssey Northstar

Putting the ‘home’ into homeopathy

The decline in home values is hurting millions of Americans. After all, many had built up a great deal of equity in their homes by the time values had reached their peaks. Now the rates are resetting on many homeowners’ ARMs and the monthly payments are increasing to the point of unaffordability. In the meantime, their equity has evaporated and they are underwater with their mortgages. The only option left if they can’t afford to service their debt is a short sale or foreclosure.

The obvious course of action is to reverse the direction of the trend in home values, right? Wrong! Declining home values are not the disease, they’re the symptom, so turning them around is not the cure. Or as Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of Income and Wealth put it, “Falling home prices are not the problem, they’re the solution.” The cure for home values is some homeopathic medicine—that is, the feds keeping their hands off the housing market and letting homes return to their intrinsic values.

President Barack Obama disagrees. Earlier this month while remarking on the mortgage crisis, the President said:

In the end, all of us are paying a price for this home mortgage crisis. And all of us will pay an even steeper price if we allow this crisis to continue to deepen—a crisis which is unraveling home ownership, the middle class, and the American Dream itself. But if we act boldly and swiftly to arrest this downward spiral, then every American will benefit.

His solution is the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. His plan has four key elements:

  1. financing help for four- to five-million homeowners who receive their mortgages through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  2. new incentives for lenders to modify the terms of sub-prime loans at risk of default and foreclosure
  3. steps to keep mortgage rates low for millions of middle class families looking to secure new mortgages
  4. additional reforms designed to help families stay in their homes

Few would refute that this plan will cost much more than $75-billion Obama has dedicated to it. Responsible taxpayers who chose not to buy homes they could not afford will subsidize others who couldn’t resist jumping onto the home-as-the-breadwinner bandwagon. Those of us who resisted the lure of “creative financing” knew that home prices could not continue rising forever. Instead we will bail out the countless HELOC abusers who have cashed out their homes under Obama’s plan.

Professor Robert Shiller is an economist from Yale who saw the burst of the housing bubble coming at least two years before the market hit its peak. He performed a study of historical home values that clearly illustrated where the housing market is headed:

The chart shows the Case-Shiller home price index from 1890 to 2012
Case–Shiller home price index data, 1890–2012

All Obama’s plan will do is postpone the inevitable…and cost America a price tag that will reach into trillions of dollars if Americans don’t put a stop to it. Anyone who has studied economics knows that all markets return to a state of equilibrium. No matter how much of our treasury we throw at the declining housing market, we will not be able to prevent a drop of another twenty percent in median home values and much more than that in some hyper-inflated regions.

The cure to the housing market is some homeopathic medicine. The idea of homeopathy is to treat disease with a dose of medicine that would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease. In the case of our diseased housing market, the medicine is lower home values. Lower home values would make home ownership more affordable to average Americans. It would make for healthier mortgages. And it would loosen up the credit market because home loans would be much less risky to lenders.

Medical marijuana makes more sense

According to NORML, thirteen states have active medical marijuana programs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that residents of those states can use marijuana to treat medical conditions without risk. Even though the people of those states democratically legalized such use, the Supreme Court demonstrated that it has no compassion for the chronically ill. The Federal government outranks the state government.

It’s about time the Feds get enlightened. Earlier this year, a group of medical doctors, endorsed using marijuana for medical purposes, urging the government to roll back a prohibition on using it to treat patients and supporting studies into its medical applications. This endorsement did not come from a bunch of quacks practicing on the fringes of medicine; it was the American College of Physicians, the second-largest doctors group in the United States.

Sadly, the Bush administration is immune to the logic of science. However, it’s become more difficult for the administration to ignore the benefits of marijuana for treating conditions that pharmaceuticals do not effectively treat. Last month, a study found that giving carefully calibrated doses of smoked marijuana to people with neuropathic pain, which can be difficult-to-treat and extremely painful, can ease their pain without clouding their minds. Those racked with chronic pain will tell you that the value of such relief cannot be counted in dollars and cents.

This is not the only medical condition that marijuana can treat. Because of the variety of ailments that can be treated with it, marijuana could improve the quality of life of countless Americans if the Feds would just lighten up. The emerging clinical applications for cannabis & cannabinoids range from Alzheimer’s disease to Tourette’s Syndrome:

Diagram of human body showing health conditions that could potentially be treated with medical marijuana
Potential Therapeutic Uses of Medical Marijuana

Congress passes law establishing the Christian religion

The Establishment Clause is one reason why the USA has remained one nation, indivisible for so long. Now the House of Representatives is trying to tear Americans apart by religion. They have passed the House Resolution 847, Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.

How is it possible that congress did not recognize something even more important? HR 847 is unquestionably a direct violation of the Constitution. The very first amendment of the Bill of Rights says unequivocally that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.? Yet HR 847 does just that, establishing the “Christian faith.”

And where does this leave Muslim and Jewish Americans or, for that matter, any American of any faith other than Christianity? Congress is implying that they’re unimportant.

Then there are atheist Americans: since atheism is the absence of any faith, including Christianity, should they infer that they, too, are unimportant to congress? Ironically, many atheists ‘celebrate’ Christmas, albeit secularly. Since HR 847 also establishes the importance of Christmas, does that mean congress considers atheists who observe Christmas halfway important?

What was once unusual is now commonplace

My twentieth anniversary of being quadriplegic came last week and I never realized I passed it by until it was in the rear-view mirror. On the afternoon of December 3rd, 1987, I was a fit, talented athlete cross-training for the ski season with some cycling. Before the end of the ride, my body was paralyzed below the shoulders. I haven’t walked since then and my power wheelchair is the only wheeled vehicle I ride anymore.

What was once totally foreign to me has now become commonplace. Even a year or two after sustaining a complete spinal cord injury, I would still frequently wonder why such a catastrophic injury would happen to me as I would observe in wonder at the surreal circumstances I was in. In the blink of an eye, I went from a life focused on sports and other physical activities to one devoid of athletic endeavors and reliant on intellectual or professional pursuits for achievement. I had to instantaneously change my lifestyle 180 degrees to find fulfillment.

After twenty years, this lifestyle must not be so novel to me anymore. Otherwise, how could this milestone anniversary have come and gone without me taking notice? Where being quadriplegic once was something that happens to other people, I now am that other person. I’ve become so accustomed to dealing with quadriplegia that it is no longer something I must dwell on just to get through my activities of daily living.

That’s not to say life is without struggle for me. On the contrary—I face countless challenges daily just trying to do those everyday things that able-bodied people take for granted (I know this because I, too, used to take them for granted). The difference is that I now face those struggles trying to realize self-actualization whereas the struggles were then just trying to achieve the physiological and safety needs from Maslow’s hierarchy. I guess I’ve discovered that dwelling on what I cannot do only gets in the way of achieving that which I can.

In the early years of my disability, I never would have risen above the barriers I faced to become a productive member of society without the strength, support, and love of my mother. To this day, she is still my foundation and has never failed to give of anything she can to continue supporting me. The rest of my tight-knit family has given me whatever other support I have needed to fully engage in an active and fulfilling life.

The first decade of disability was dedicated to rebuilding and learning to adapt. As a high school dropout, I didn’t expect to accomplish much professionally without a degree being a quadriplegic. It took me quite a few years to get an undergraduate degree and then an MBA. In the meantime, I had to learn how to have fun without participating in some sport. It turns out that the wheelchair seating is pretty good in some venues, so concerts continued to be a frequent leisure activity for me. I could watch sports just as well paralyzed as able-bodied. Watching movies was yet another way to pass the time.

The last decade of disability has been dedicated to rejoining the workforce and developing a career. Even with the growing awareness of people with disabilities in society, this is unquestionably the greatest challenge to conquer for someone with a severe disability. Although it’s likely subconscious, there is still a surprising amount of discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. Fortunately, I have been able to encounter a handful of progressive organizations that have overlooked my physical limitations and hired me for my capabilities. I have enjoyed working in a variety of different jobs this decade that were suited to my skills and knowledge such that I have been relatively successful at making valuable contributions to my employer. Hopefully the workforce’s exposure to me has increased the odds of the next young man with a severe disability coming along looking for a job to get it.

Now I’m managing a very successful business unit for an organization. I have led it to rapid growth and through substantial development. Of course, that means I’ve been very busy so, when the twentieth anniversary of my disability came along last week, I was too busy to remember it. I suppose that’s a good thing—had I not realized the accomplishments I’ve had in spite of being quadriplegic, I’d probably be sitting around home every weekday watching TV and the milestone would instead have loomed up on me like a big cloud.

Granted, I still occasionally think that quadriplegia has made my life rather dismal in many ways. At times like that, all I have to do is think about what life would be like living in a place like Darfur or even just a hundred miles away like the slums of Tijuana to realize that I’m really quite blessed. So here I go, looking forward to the next two decades with anticipation and determination to make them better than the last two.

Check back here at the end of 2027. If I write nothing whatsoever about the fortieth anniversary of my quadriplegia, it will mean either I’ve become fully self-actualized or someone discovers the cure to spinal cord injuries.

America’s lifeblood slips away

As of yesterday, Los Angeles set a record for the least rainfall in any year since records have been kept. Yet it seems as if no one is alarmed. In past Southern California droughts, the media was full of appeals to the public to conserve water. This time, there’s not a word about it, and Californians are watering their lawns in midday, ‘sweeping’ their driveways by spraying water, taking long showers, and denying the dangers of global warming.

It’s not just Los Angeles that’s in a drought. One-third of the continental United States is in a drought that has been drying out the West for almost a decade. Even the Southeast, which is normally a relatively wet part of the country, is mired in drought.

Pier sitting on dry lake bed
Lake Okeechobee in Florida at all-time low water level

Should Americans be concerned about these conditions? They should if they like their current standard of living. Meteorologists are warning that conditions similar to those which led to the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s are again in place in the 21st century. The Dust Bowl lasted more than a year and was so severe that it left over half a million Americans homeless (at a time when the population of the country was much smaller than it is now), and it played a significant role in prolonging the Great Depression.

Americans need to wake up to the threat that drought is posing to the country. Water is the lifeblood to so much of what we take for granted in our everyday lives. People in the effected areas of the country need to change their habits and conserve water, and all of America needs to take action to mitigate global warming so that drought does not become a permanent fixture in our homeland.

We don’t need no stinking badges!

The first time I saw The Police in concert was twenty-five years ago. They played the Sunrise Music Theater, a small venue that seated a couple of thousand people in Sunrise, Florida. I was about a dozen rows back, slightly stage left of center. Sting was playing the stand-up bass.

When I saw them last week, it was in Southern California. The venue seats a little less than 20,000. I sat in the Terrace. Still, it wasn’t a bad view since I was directly next to the stage at the front of the section, so the view was completely unobstructed. Besides, there were a couple of jumbotrons directly in front of me.

I’ve also seen Sting perform solo in concert, and I enjoy his music. Nonetheless, I prefer his work with The Police. I was excited to get the opportunity to see the group rejoined again after so long. I had very high expectations, considering the three of them are now seasoned veterans and Sting is a great talent. In the end, the show was enjoyable but it didn’t meet my expectations.

Surprisingly, the star of the show was clearly Stewart Copeland. His drumming and percussion performance was flawless, and his style was captivating. The Police’s rhythms are so complex, yet the beauty of Copeland’s drumming is more the riffs he leaves out than the ones he plays.

Sting’s bass playing was also excellent. However, he was not in top form vocally—it wasn’t bad, but he didn’t have the chops I’ve heard him sing before. In all fairness, that should come as no surprise considering he got little vocal support from his band mates, and they had already been touring for a while. The vocals were left almost entirely up to Sting. There were none of the harmonies that their studio work has and there were little backup vocals. Sting’s voice was probably a bit tired and so he didn’t hit some of the higher notes.

Certainly Andy Summers should have been able to sing a lot more than he did. It’s not as if he was too busy playing guitar. Summers plays few of the fast, intricate leads so common in rock. He mostly played his trademark simple, spatial guitar licks. Nonetheless, he did a fairly good job playing them.

The stage production was somewhat lackluster, particularly juxtaposed against the Roger Waters concert I went to last week. The Police had a typical laser and light show. They played a couple of videos on the jumbotrons, but it was mostly live shots of the band that they played on them. The sound reinforcement was a little muddy with the reproduction of the bass and drums when they were playing fast and loud.

However, when the band was playing some of their more spatial songs that they’re noted for, their instrumental work was excellent. It was refreshing to be treated to quality musicianship by a classic power trio line-up that is so rare in contemporary music. Although I wasn’t blown away by the concert, I was well entertained. The Police showed that they don’t need to carry badges to do good work.

When pigs fly!

I went to my first Roger Waters concert last night with my friend Larry (who has seen every show in town, no matter how rare, unavailable, and hard to find the music is). The show was spectacular! I have never been to a Pink Floyd concert either, but I’ve heard about what incredible shows they are for years. As a founding member and the main songwriter of Pink Floyd, the show Waters produced last night exceeded all my expectations. The band was well rehearsed and, other than missing David Gilmour’s distinctive vocals, the music sounded as good as the studio work.

The show was in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater set against the side of a hill in south Orange County—you can’t ask for a better venue on a mild spring night under the stars. The wheelchair seating is excellent, at the back of the Orchestra, so it’s close enough to the stage for a good view without binoculars, and raised high enough so that those of us who cannot stand from our wheelchairs (which also applies to Larry, who happens to be the one who convinced the venue’s management to make the seating unobstructed) can still see when the rest of the crowd stands. I was in section 1, six seats from the inside aisle. The amphitheater seats about 16,000, and was chock full of enthusiastic Pink Floyd fans last night. It has a very large stage, a couple of jumbotrons, and an excellent sound system.

I’ve been a Pink Floyd fan for decades, so I was looking forward with great anticipation to see Roger Waters. I’m not the type of person who takes notes at a concert, I just sit back and enjoy, so I can’t reel off the song list, the opener and the encore. However, I can say that Waters opened with a set about an hour long of all the classic Pink Floyd songs I was hoping to hear and some more esoteric material that I didn’t know by heart but enjoyed all the same, along with some of Waters’ solo music—a new one called Leaving Beirut being the most memorable for me.

Then after a fifteen minute intermission, Waters played Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. They did a great job of synching all of the recorded sound effects that are so inherently inextricable to the piece with the band’s live performance. Being the first CD I ever bought about a quarter of a century ago, Dark Side of the Moon is probably still my favorite album, so it was wonderful to experience it performed live end-to-end in order. Besides, as good as some of the songs are individually, Dark Side of the Moon is really designed to be a cohesive piece, so I was very pleased that Waters performed it that way. Eclipse was followed by a bow and a three or four song encore.

As great as the music was last night, it was not the stand-out part of the concert experience. I’ve had countless memorable concert experiences over almost thirty years of concert-going. The music is usually what makes a concert great. However, all of the production effects outside of the music were what made this show special for me. As spectacular as they were, they did not distract from the music; they enhanced it.

The stage was backed by an immense high-definition television screen. The concert opened with a close-up shot of an old radio on the screen. Periodically, a hand would reach into the shot, pick up a cigarette, and tune the radio. This was a recurring element in the show, with the hand “tuning in” the first couple of the songs the band played, then later clips pulling back and showing more of what was going on with the man in the room who was tuning the radio. However, there was plenty of other video material played on the screen over the course of the concert, including some of the footage from The Wall. The high-definition resolution made the video component very special.

The video wasn’t the extent of the effects. The sound reinforcement in the amphitheater was Surround Sound especially for this show, and Waters made extensive use of it with all the sound effects that are Pink Floyd’s trademark. The show had impressive on-stage pyrotechnics, a particular set of them which were so bright that they left green blind-spots in my eyes for a few minutes. The producers even deployed an innovative contraption which projected a three-dimensional laser light show.

However, the most surprising production effect was when a huge pig suddenly appeared floating over the audience. It was pink and a little bigger than one of those short yellow school buses. There was graffiti all over it, some of which made it clear what some of Waters’ political positions are. The words “Impeach Bush” were emblazoned across the back end of the pig, and the words “What an asshole!” were painted on its ham with an arrow pointing to where the pigs asshole would be—except that the aforementioned word “Bush” was already there at the end of the arrow. After making a circuit around the amphitheater, the pig was released and floated up with a spotlight on it during the intermission until it disappeared from sight. I wondered what would happen when it would finally lose its helium and float back down, likely landing in the middle of the 5 freeway somewhere in Norwalk this morning.

All in all, last night is sure to stand out for many years as one of my favorite concert experiences. I love Pink Floyd music and it was performed with excellent musicianship. Waters included all of my favorite Pink Floyd songs in what turned out to be a long show (showing great stamina for a 63 year old man). The venue and weather cooperated to be wonderful hosts. The stage production was incomparable. The next time someone tells me, “when pigs fly,” I’ll remember that, hey, it could happen.

Universal Design

Universal Design refers to incorporating features into a home which make it more accessible to persons with disabilities while retaining its utility and aesthetic for able-bodied residents. Unfortunately, even though the concept is that Universal Design should be equally as homey for able-bodied residents as a dwelling with no Universal Design is, it’s still rare to find housing with such features. So when a major apartment management company incorporated Universal Design into one of their units expressly for me without charging me for it, I thought the company deserves commendation for it.

The most important Universal Design feature for me is the curbless shower. It makes an act that most people take for granted, bathing, so much easier for me when I can simply roll my wheelchair right into the shower stall. The challenge is to design a curbless shower which does not appear institutional and in which a bather is just as comfortable using it standing up. Fortunately, manufacturers are now meeting that challenge.

Curbless shower
Curbless shower

The management also removed the cabinetry from under the sinks in both the master bathroom and the kitchen so that I could get my knees under either of the sinks while seated in front of them in a wheelchair. Granted, an able-bodied resident would likely prefer cabinetry under the sink, with doors to obscure the underside of the sink. However, what makes this qualify as Universal Design is the fact that the cabinetry can easily be restored under the sink if all disabled residents were to later vacate the dwelling.

Another feature they incorporated into the kitchen is a roll-out pantry. Each shelf has rollers that allow them to be pulled out in front of where the closed doors would be. This makes the items in the pantry much easier to reach for someone seated in front of it. Regardless, able-bodied residents also find this Universal Design feature preferable to standard shelving.

There are some other Universal Design features which were not added specifically for me. They were actually added to all of the apartment units when they renovated the property where I live because they are widely desired as contemporary interior design. These are the levered door handles, the touch pad light switches, and the hardwood flooring. While the handles and switches are very helpful features for people with limited manual dexterity, they are nonetheless preferred by all tenants. The hardwood flooring is much easier to roll a wheelchair on than a carpeted floor, but the management added it to all of the units when they did the renovation because their market was demanding it.

In front of each of the doors, management built up a small concrete pad that gently slopes right up to the threshold. Blending in with the walkway leading up to the front door (or the patio out back), this inconspicuous modification makes the apartment easily accessible to smoothly rolling a wheelchair into without having to install a wood or aluminum ramp. However, this feature is also beneficial to people walking into the residence because there’s no chance of accidentally tripping over the sill of the doorway. It also makes it easier to dolly items like a refrigerator into the home.

Finally, the last accommodation that management made for me is the carpeting. In the rooms without hardwood flooring, the apartment had the carpeting typically found in rental units—light colored with a nap. This kind of carpeting is rapidly trashed by wheelchairs. First of all, the tires track dirt in much more so than shoes do, leaving stains that are very conspicuous on light colored carpeting. Secondly, they also rapidly matte down the nap in the most frequently trafficked areas, leaving wheel tracks in the carpeting. So management laid commercial carpeting like they use in the leasing office in my apartment. Its short nap doesn’t get matted and the dark, mottled coloring camouflages the dirt tracked in by the wheels. This accommodation might not qualify as Universal Design since able-bodied tenants would probably prefer the standard carpeting.

Nonetheless, it speaks to the socially responsible manner in which my apartment management company does business. While accommodating the special needs of a small cohort, they’re also using innovative Universal Design that benefits the entire population they serve. I give a tip of the hat to them.